Although dietary fat was once avoided and considered a major contributor to heart disease, researchers have found that it can offer some benefits.
However, the American Heart Association recommends that saturated fat should be limited to less than 10% of total calorie intake. Though some saturated fats — like those found in dairy — may not have the same negative effect as saturated fats that are found in red meat.
Still full-fat foods may offer benefits over their reduced-fat or fat-free counterparts. They are usually less processed and lower in sugar and carbs.
Here are 9 high-fat foods that are incredibly nutritious.
Avocados are unique in the world of fruits. Whereas most fruits primarily contain carbs, avocados are loaded with fats.
In fact, avocados are about 80% fat, by calories, making them even higher in fat than most animal foods.
Avocados are also among the best sources of potassium in the diet, providing 15% of the Daily Value (DV) per 5-ounce (150-gram) serving. In addition, they’re packed with antioxidant compounds.
Additionally, one study involving 45 men and women found that the consumption of one avocado daily for 5 weeks had favorable effects on participants’ cholesterol profiles.
They’re also a great source of fiber, which offers numerous digestive, heart health, and weight management benefits.
Cheese is surprisingly nutritious, despite its iffy reputation.
It is a great source of calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and selenium, and contains many other nutrients.
It is also rich in protein, with a single ounce (28 grams) of cheese containing 6 grams of protein, nearly as much as a glass of milk.
Cheese, like other high-fat dairy products, also doesn’t appear to increase heart disease risk compared with reduced-fat dairy — as it was previously thought to.
3. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is a nutritious food disguised as a tasty treat. It is very high in fat, with fat accounting for around 65% of calories.
In addition, dark chocolate contains fiber and several notable nutrients, including iron and magnesium, which some people may have difficulty getting enough of.
It is also loaded with antioxidants like resveratrol, the same antioxidant that gives red wine its health benefits, and epicatechin, which may possess anti-aging and performance-enhancing properties.
It’s important to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa, as other varieties are higher in added sugar and lower in the nutrients and antioxidants that dark chocolate provides.
4. Whole eggs
Whole eggs used to be considered unhealthy because the yolks are high in cholesterol and fat.
However, new studies have shown that cholesterol in eggs does not negatively affect the cholesterol in the blood, at least not in the majority of people.
In addition, eggs are profoundly nutrient dense, containing a variety of vitamins and minerals. One example is choline, a nutrient the brain needs but 90% of people don’t get enough of it. One egg (50 grams) provides 27% of the DV of choline.
Eggs are also a weight-loss–friendly food. They are high in protein, which can help you to stay fuller between meals and cut down on excess calories.
Yolks and all, eggs can be a healthy addition to any diet.
5. Fatty fish
Fatty fish is widely regarded as one of the most nutritious animal protein sources available. This includes fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring.
These fish are loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, high quality proteins, and a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Research shows that regular fatty fish consumption may enhance cognitive function, help regulate blood sugar levels, and decrease heart disease risk.
If you can’t (or don’t) eat fish, taking a fish oil supplement may be useful. Cod fish liver oil is best. It contains all the omega-3s that you need, as well as plenty of vitamin D.
Nuts are incredibly healthy. They are high in healthy fats and fiber, and are a good plant-based source of protein.
Nuts also contain vitamin E and are loaded with magnesium, a mineral that most people don’t get enough of.
Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and have a lower risk of various diseases. This includes obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Healthy nuts include almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and numerous others.
7. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are generally not thought of as a “fatty” food, but an ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds actually contains 11 grams of fat.
Additionally, almost all the carbs in chia seeds are fiber — so the vast the majority of calories in them actually comes from fat.
These aren’t just any fats either. The majority of the fats in chia seeds consists of the heart-healthy, essential omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Chia seeds may also have numerous health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and having anti-inflammatory effects.
They are also incredibly nutritious. In addition to being loaded with fiber and omega-3s, chia seeds are also packed with nutrients.
8. Extra virgin olive oil
Another fatty food that almost everyone agrees is healthy is extra virgin olive oil. It’s high in oleic acid, a fatty acid that offers some powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
This fat is an essential component of the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to have numerous health benefits regarding heart health, blood sugar management, and weight management.
It’s extremely versatile in cooking but really shines on roasted vegetables and in homemade salad dressings.
9. Full-fat yogurt
Full-fat yogurt can be nutrient rich. It has all the same important nutrients as other high-fat dairy products.
However, it’s also loaded with healthy probiotics that can have powerful effects on your health.
Studies show that yogurt may improve digestive health and may even help with weight management and reducing heart disease risk.
Additionally, research suggests that full-fat dairy has no negative health effects compared with fat-free or reduced-fat dairy.
It’s important to choose full-fat or whole milk yogurt, and select a version with minimal added sugar.
The bottom line
Although high-fat foods were once thought to be low in nutrients, research now shows that some fats do not pose the negative concerns for heart health that it once was thought to.
Additionally, naturally high-fat foods may offer similar health benefits to their low-fat counterparts while being less processed.
Although they are higher in calories, the high-fat foods on this list can easily be part of a nutrient-dense, whole- food–based diet.
Just one thing
Try this today: Although fats can definitely be part of a nutrient-rich diet, if you’re trying to lose weight, you may still need to monitor your intake of high-calorie, fat-rich foods like cheese and nuts. Stick to just one serving of these foods to keep the calories reasonable. It’s best to use a food scale so you can be sure you’re not underestimating.